Cleaning up Long Island

Posillico Materials’ contaminated soils wash plant helps establish the company as an innovator in the U.S.

Photos by posillico Materials

Established in 1946, Long Island, New York-based Posillico Inc. has steadily grown to become a top engineering contracting firm in the tri-state area and a go-to resource for public works projects in New York.

Founded by Joseph D. Posillico Sr., the now fourth-generation family business started out as a small trucking contractor. Today, Posillico provides a range of integrated services including heavy civil work for the public and private sectors, environmental remediation, paving, drilling and utilities contracting.

Now approaching its 50th year in business, Posillico Materials—the company’s business unit which specializes in producing recycled sand, aggregates and clay—is helping re-imagine how companies manage waste with the support of wet processing technology supplied by Northern Ireland-based CDE.

Cleaning up the island

With its commitment to environmental responsibility, Posillico Materials recognized the need in recent years to help address mounting concerns over Long Island’s ground pollution and landfill capacity.

“There’s a big need to clean up the island,” Thomas Posillico, material division manager for the company, says.

For many years, Long Island has been troubled by pollution stemming from toxic dumping and the improper handling of industrial wastes. With ground pollution having the potential to adversely affect the island’s groundwater and drinking water via three major source aquifers close to the Earth’s surface, the Posillico team identified the urgency of helping fix this problem.

Historically, contaminated soil would be transported off the island where it would be destined for landfill. A decade and a half ago, Posillico began investing in soil washing technology to help remedy this issue without having to transport the soil remotely. While this technology helped Posillico remove contaminants, extract value and return land to good use, the different vendors and equipment the company relied upon didn’t allow for the efficiencies the company hoped for.

“Our history with soil washing goes back over 15 years,” Robert Tassey, a facility manager for Posillico, says. “We had designed a plant. We called it the Frankenstein plant because we took a piece of equipment from here, a piece of equipment from there, and we put it all together.”

Tassey says a chance encounter with CDE representatives at a CONEXPO-CON/AGG conference several years ago helped him see how the company’s wet processing technologies could benefit Posillico by allowing for more uniformity.

After initial discussions, Posillico made the commitment to CDE for the company to design and construct a new wash plant on-site.

First-of-its-kind solution

Using a co-creation approach to develop the system, CDE worked in collaboration with Posillico to understand its requirements and design needs. Once these were understood, CDE built a wet processing solution that would enable the business to realize its vision for sustainable and profitable contaminated soils processing.

“We spent about a year and a half on the design. We have various laws and requirements that we have to meet here, and CDE was absolutely willing to help in making any adjustments we needed to the plant to satisfy our regulatory requirements,” Tassey says

“Both Posillico and CDE share a very similar commitment to innovation,” he continues. “Neither company is afraid to take a leap. Neither company is afraid to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

After considering Posillico’s smaller site footprint of approximately 3 acres as well as the company’s processing requirements, CDE proposed a tailored wet processing solution that would allow for the efficient processing of incoming contaminated material into high-quality washed construction sand and aggregates. As a benefit, Posillico’s urban location was ideal thanks to its proximity to the source material derived from projects around New York City.

Once the project was conceptualized, installation, Tassey says, was simple due to the fact that the plant was assembled and subject to factory acceptance testing.

“Most of the pieces are modular, so it made the install go quickly and efficiently,” he says.

A first of its kind in North America, Posillico’s new recycling system became operational in May 2019. The system incorporates a multitude of technologies, including: CDE’s R2500 primary scalping screen feed system, AggMax portable logwasher, M4500 with integrated Attrition Cells to scrub fine material and remove contaminants, CFCU for density separation, EvoWash fine materials classification system, an AquaCycle thickener and PlatePress to eliminate waste and increase water recycling.

Posillico Inc. Principal Michael Posillico says, “When I visited CDE, I knew I’d picked the right company to work with, and I could see that from the design floor, to the people that were testing the equipment, to the people that were in charge.”

“This is the largest soil wash plant in the world,” he adds. “Not only is it the largest, but it’s the most sophisticated plant.”

Thomas Posillico says, “This is really a one-of-a-kind operation that can take so many different varieties of soil and run it through the same plant. Nobody is doing anything like this on Long Island or in the U.S. that I know.”

Maximizing material, minimizing impact

Being one of the largest and most advanced contaminated soil washing facilities in the world, Posillico’s wash plant boasts a high material recovery rate. Posillico can now reduce the unsuitable content in its incoming raw material to approximately 10 percent on average, with the remaining 90 percent being diverted from landfill.

The Long Island facility has the capacity to recycle up to 3,000 tons of soil per day while simultaneously recovering high-value recyclable and saleable products such as sand and aggregates that meet New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) remediation standards.

With the help of the wash plant, Posillico is now producing a range of materials, including concrete and mason sands, as well as three different aggregates: ¼ inch to 5/8 inch, 5/8 inch to 1 ¼ inch, and 1 ¼ inch to 4 inch.

As a vertically integrated operation, over 60 percent of the certified sand and aggregates recycled on-site are used by Posillico Materials in asphalt production, with the remainder sold directly to the market.

Due to the variable nature of contaminated soils, the Posillico wash plant can accept a wide variety of feed material, including excavation waste, recognizable and uncontaminated materials (RUCARBs), contaminated fill, dredge waste, mixed loads and more.

Within its first few months of operation, the plant processed over 65,000 tons of contaminated soil from a 12-acre brownfield site known as Harbor Isle in Nassau County, New York. Located on the land of a former Cibro petroleum storage facility, the site’s soil and groundwater had been contaminated for decades by fuel and oil and was subject to a major remediation project.

Despite the deeply contaminated nature of this material, Posillico’s investment in CDE’s solutions made processing the soil easy.

“You name it, this CDE plant can process it,” Tassey explains. “We can now feed ourselves with not only contaminated material, but our unsuitable fill from job sites that’s left over, our excavation waste and our drilling spoils.”

In addition to processing material from its own operations, the plant is available to process material from other local construction and engineering companies. This helps lower the cost of waste disposal, divert potentially valuable material from landfill, and lower a company’s carbon footprint due to reducing the need to transport material off the island.

Tassey says, “With the population expanding, [New York’s] infrastructure is getting old. The emphasis has to be on rebuilding and investing in our infrastructure. With that, there’s going to be a ton of material that needs to be processed, and it needs to be processed responsibly and efficiently. The way to do that is to recycle it through a plant like ours.”

The beginning of something important

Sean O’Leary, CDE CustomCare manager for North America, says that the changing nature of the material stream is one of the reasons that CDE’s relationship with customers like Posillico is an ongoing one. This includes regular follow-ups and support.

“What we do is we maintain that relationship with the customer through parts, through service, through technical advice, and just overall operation of the plant,” O’Leary says.

“It’s never a steady feed material, so you’re always making adjustments to the plant to make sure you get the requirements you need,” O’Leary continues.

It is this symbiotic relationship between CDE and Posillico that has been so vital for helping the company manage its plant during its initial years of operation, Michael Posillico says.

“We believe in a sustainable future, and with our partners at CDE, we are uniquely positioned to ease the burden on virgin materials in the tri-state area through our wash plant,” he says.

“We are looking at every aspect of our operation to see where we can minimize our environmental impact and reaffirm our commitment to sustainability on Long Island,” he continues. “These are attributes that are reflected in the very design of the plant, too, which operates all-electric drives and recycles up to 90 percent of the process water we use. Not only that, but we collect and recycle 3.6 million gallons of stormwater annually to maintain our top-up water supply. What we have here is the beginning of something really important.”

Darren Eastwood is the business development director for CDE. He can be reached at

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